[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: p53, p63, p73 family of proteins are transcription factors with crucial roles in regulating cellular processes such apoptosis, proliferation, differentiation, and DNA damage response. The three family members have both overlapping and unique biological functions. Sequence and structural homology are greatest in the DNA binding domains (DBD), which is the site of the majority of p53 mutations. Structurally unstable p53 DBD mutants can associate with themselves or p63 and p73 DBDs, impeding tumor suppressor functions. Evidence suggests that these proteins associate to form amyloid-like oligomers and fibrils through an aggregation-prone sequence within the DBDs. Despite having high sequence and structure similarities, p63 and p73 DBDs appear to have considerably lower tendencies to be incorporated into p53 aggregates, relative to p53. The backbone resonance assignments of p73 DBD reported here complement those previously reported for p53 and p63, allowing comparisons and providing molecular insights into their biological functions and roles in aggregation and tumor development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Linear Motifs (LMs) are protein-protein interaction sites, typically consisting of ~4-20 amino acid residues that are often found in disordered proteins or regions, and function largely independent from other parts of the proteins they are found in. These short sequence patterns are involved in a wide spectrum of biological functions including cell cycle control, transcriptional regulation, enzymatic catalysis, cell signaling, protein trafficking, etc. Even though LMs may adopt defined structures in complexes with targets, which can be determined by conventional methods, their uncomplexed states can be highly dynamic and difficult to characterize. This hinders our understanding of the structure-function relationship of LMs. Here, the uncomplexed states of 6 different LMs are investigated using atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The total simulation time was about 63 µs. The results show that LMs can have distinct conformational propensities, which often resemble their complexed state. As a result, the free state structure and dynamics of LMs may hold important clues regarding binding mechanisms, affinities and specificities. The findings should be helpful in advancing our understanding of the mechanisms whereby disordered amino acid sequences bind targets, modeling disordered proteins/regions, and computational prediction of binding affinities.
The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 12/2013; 117:15943-15957. DOI:10.1021/jp407536p · 3.30 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A small number of proteins, called hubs, have high connectivity and are essential for interactome functionality and integrity. Keap1 is a crucial hub in the oxidative stress response and apoptosis. The Kelch domain of Keap1 preferentially binds to disordered regions of its partners, which share similar binding motifs, but have a wide range of binding affinities. Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and multi-microsecond molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were used to determine the factors that govern the affinity of all currently known disordered binding partners to Kelch. Our results show that the affinities to this hub are largely determined by the extent of preformed bound state-like conformation in the free state structures of these disordered targets. Based on our findings, we have designed a high-affinity peptide that can specifically disrupt the Keap1-NRF2 interaction and has the potential for therapeutic applications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) is an inhibitor of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a key transcription factor for cytoprotective gene activation in the oxidative stress response. Under unstressed conditions, Keap1 interacts with Nrf2 in the cytoplasm via its Kelch domain and suppresses the transcriptional activity of Nrf2. During oxidative stress, Nrf2 is released from Keap1 and is translocated into the nucleus, where it interacts with the small Maf protein to initiate gene transcription. Prothymosin alpha (ProTα), an intrinsically disordered protein, also interacts with the Kelch domain of Keap1 and mediates the import of Keap1 into the nucleus to inhibit Nrf2 activity. To gain a molecular basis understanding of the oxidative stress response mechanism, we have characterized the interaction between ProTα and the Kelch domain of Keap1 by using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), peptide array analysis, site-directed mutagenesis, and molecular dynamic (MD) simulations. The results of NMR chemical shift mapping, amide hydrogen exchange, and spin relaxation measurements revealed that ProTα retains a high level of flexibility, even in the bound state with Kelch. This finding is in agreement with the observations from the MD simulations of the ProTα-Kelch complex. Mutational analysis of ProTα, guided by peptide array data and ITC, further pinpointed that the region (38)NANEENGE(45) of ProTα is crucial for the interaction with the Kelch domain, while the flanking residues play relatively minor roles in the affinity of binding.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inside cells, the concentration of macromolecules can reach up to 400 g/L. In such crowded environments, proteins are expected to behave differently than in vitro. It has been shown that the stability and the folding rate of a globular protein can be altered by the excluded volume effect produced by a high density of macromolecules. However, macromolecular crowding effects on intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) are less explored. These proteins can be extremely dynamic and potentially sample a wide ensemble of conformations under non-denaturing conditions. The dynamic properties of IDPs are intimately related to the timescale of conformational exchange within the ensemble, which govern target recognition and how these proteins function. In this work, we investigated the macromolecular crowding effects on the dynamics of several IDPs by measuring the NMR spin relaxation parameters of three disordered proteins (ProTα, TC1, and α-synuclein) with different extents of residual structures. To aid the interpretation of experimental results, we also performed an MD simulation of ProTα. Based on the MD analysis, a simple model to correlate the observed changes in relaxation rates to the alteration in protein motions under crowding conditions was proposed. Our results show that 1) IDPs remain at least partially disordered despite the presence of high concentration of other macromolecules, 2) the crowded environment has differential effects on the conformational propensity of distinct regions of an IDP, which may lead to selective stabilization of certain target-binding motifs, and 3) the segmental motions of IDPs on the nanosecond timescale are retained under crowded conditions. These findings strongly suggest that IDPs function as dynamic structural ensembles in cellular environments.
PLoS ONE 11/2012; 7(11):e49876. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0049876 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have compared molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of a β-hairpin forming peptide derived from the protein Nrf2 with 10 biomolecular force fields using trajectories of at least 1 μs. The total simulation time was 37.2 μs. Previous studies have shown that different force fields, water models, simulation methods, and parameters can affect simulation outcomes. The MD simulations were done in explicit solvent with a 16-mer Nrf2 β-hairpin forming peptide using Amber ff99SB-ILDN, Amber ff99SB*-ILDN, Amber ff99SB, Amber ff99SB*, Amber ff03, Amber ff03*, GROMOS96 43a1p, GROMOS96 53a6, CHARMM27, and OPLS-AA/L force fields. The effects of charge-groups, terminal capping, and phosphorylation on the peptide folding were also examined. Despite using identical starting structures and simulation parameters, we observed clear differences among the various force fields and even between replicates using the same force field. Our simulations show that the uncapped peptide folds into a native-like β-hairpin structure at 310 K when Amber ff99SB-ILDN, Amber ff99SB*-ILDN, Amber ff99SB, Amber ff99SB*, Amber ff03, Amber ff03*, GROMOS96 43a1p, or GROMOS96 53a6 were used. The CHARMM27 simulations were able to form native hairpins in some of the elevated temperature simulations, while the OPLS-AA/L simulations did not yield native hairpin structures at any temperatures tested. Simulations that used charge-groups or peptide capping groups were not largely different from their uncapped counterparts with single atom charge-groups. On the other hand, phosphorylation of the threonine residue located at the β-turn significantly affected the hairpin formation. To our knowledge, this is the first study comparing such a large set of force fields with respect to β-hairpin folding. Such a comprehensive comparison will offer useful guidance to others conducting similar types of simulations.
Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation 08/2012; 8(8):2725-2740. DOI:10.1021/ct300323g · 5.50 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Kelch-like ECH-associated Protein 1 (Keap1) is a multi-domain protein that functions as an inhibitor of the transcription factor nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) in the cellular response to oxidative stress. Under normal conditions, Keap1 binds to Nrf2 via its C-terminal Kelch domain and the interaction ultimately leads to the ubiquitin-dependent degradation of Nrf2. It has been proposed that designing molecules to selectively disrupt the Keap1–Nrf2 interaction can be a potential therapeutic approach for enhancing the expression of cytoprotective genes. Here, we reported the 1H, 13C, and 15N backbone chemical shift assignments of the Kelch domain of mouse Keap1. Further, unlabeled Nrf2 peptide containing the Kelch-binding motif was added to the 15N-labeled Kelch sample. 1H–15N HSQC spectra of the protein in the absence and presence of an equimolar concentration of the Nrf2 peptide were presented. A significant number of resonance signals were shifted upon addition of the peptide, confirming the protein–peptide interaction. The results here will not just facilitate the further studies of the binding between Keap1 and Nrf2, it will also be valuable for probing interactions between the Kelch domain and small molecules, as well as a growing list of protein targets that have been identified recently.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PnTx3-4 is a toxin isolated from the venom of the spider Phoneutria nigriventer that blocks N-, P/Q-, and R-type voltage-gated calcium channels and has great potential for clinical applications. In this report we used the SUMO system to express large amounts of recombinant PnTx3-4 peptide, which was found in both soluble and insoluble fractions of bacterial extracts. We purified the recombinant toxin from both fractions and showed that the recombinant peptide showed biological activity similar to the native PnTx3-4. In silico analysis of the primary sequence of PnTx3-4 indicated that the peptide conforms to all the criteria of a knottin scaffold. Additionally, circular dichroism spectrum analysis of the recombinant PnTx3-4 predicted that the toxin structure is composed of approximately 53% turns/unordered, 31% α-helix and 16% β-strand, which is consistent with predicted model of the PnTx3-4 knottin scaffold available at the knottin database (http://knottin.cbs.cnrs.fr). These studies provide the basis for future large scale production and structure-function investigation of PnTx3-4.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) are abundant in cells and have central roles in protein-protein interaction networks. Interactions between the IDP Prothymosin alpha (ProTα) and the Neh2 domain of Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), with a common binding partner, Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1(Keap1), are essential for regulating cellular response to oxidative stress. Misregulation of this pathway can lead to neurodegenerative diseases, premature aging and cancer. In order to understand the mechanisms these two disordered proteins employ to bind to Keap1, we performed extensive 0.5-1.0 microsecond atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and isothermal titration calorimetry experiments to investigate the structure/dynamics of free-state ProTα and Neh2 and their thermodynamics of bindings. The results show that in their free states, both ProTα and Neh2 have propensities to form bound-state-like β-turn structures but to different extents. We also found that, for both proteins, residues outside the Keap1-binding motifs may play important roles in stabilizing the bound-state-like structures. Based on our findings, we propose that the binding of disordered ProTα and Neh2 to Keap1 occurs synergistically via preformed structural elements (PSEs) and coupled folding and binding, with a heavy bias towards PSEs, particularly for Neh2. Our results provide insights into the molecular mechanisms Neh2 and ProTα bind to Keap1, information that is useful for developing therapeutics to enhance the oxidative stress response.
PLoS ONE 11/2011; 6(11):e27371. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0027371 · 3.23 Impact Factor